Oklahoma State Football Predictions
Oklahoma State is coming off arguably the best season in school history. It went 12-1, capping things off with a win over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl, and was an overtime loss (to Iowa State) away from running the table.
After losing offensive stars Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, the Cowboys will likely take a step back. However, the program has never been in a better position to handle a rebuilding year.
The Cowboys led the Big 12 in scoring offense in 2011 with 48.7 points per game, a figure that was good for second nationally. It finished second in the conference (third nationally) in total offense with 545.9 yards per game, and it did so with one of the best passing attacks in the nation, one that averaged 387.2 yards per contest.
Weeden and Blackmon, a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, will be missed, but there’s reason to believe the offense will remain potent.
Mike Gundy is big on freshman quarterback Wes Lunt. The youngster will undoubtedly experience some ups and downs, but he gives the Cowboys the best chance to win.
In order to ease Lunt in, a larger emphasis will be placed on the running game, which has the potential to be the best in the Big 12. Junior Joseph Randle leads the ground attack after rushing for 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011.
The coaching staff is counting on a big season from Tracy Moore, who will step into Blackmon’s spot on the outside. Moore caught 45 passes for 672 yards and four scores last year.
An offensive line led by senior guards Lane Taylor and Jonathan Rush should once again be a strength.
Oklahoma State’s stop unit ranked seventh in the Big 12 (107th nationally) in total defense last season with 456.8 yards allowed per game. However, it was a big-play unit that helped the Cowboys lead the nation in turnover margin at plus-21.
Gundy is counting on the defense to be even better in 2012, and it will have to be as the offense can’t be counted on to outscore the opposition the way it did a year ago.
The defensive line should receive a boost from junior college transfer Calvin Barnett, who is expected to step right in at one of the tackle spots.
The linebacker unit is the strength of the defense. Weakside backer Alex Elkins, middle backer Caleb Lavey and strongside backer Shaun Lewis are all-conference-caliber players.
The secondary is solid as well with three starters returning, including junior free safety Daytawion Lowe, who had 97 tackles in 2011 to lead the team.
Big 12 Prediction – 4th Place
After losing its two best players, Oklahoma State will take a step back in 2012. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t remain competitive.
The schedule is forgiving. The Cowboys have a soft non-conference slate, and they get Big 12 title contenders Texas, TCU and West Virginia at home. The Nov. 24 battle at Oklahoma is the only game I believe to be a sure loss, but I also give Texas and West Virginia the edge in the conference race. The Longhorns have a better defense and the Mountaineers should be superior offensively.
A nine-win season is in the cards, and it would mark the fifth straight season with nine wins or more if the Cowboys can pull it off.
|Oklahoma||Texas||West Virginia||Oklahoma State||Baylor|
|TCU||Kansas State||Texas Tech||Iowa State||Kansas|
|ACC||Big 12||Big East||Big Ten|
|Conference USA||Independents||MAC||Mountain West|